In an effort to reduce accidents and “keep people moving,” the BC Government announced that installation will begin this week on two variable speed limit systems for the Fraser Valley.
Dubbed the first of its kind in BC, the province said the new “congestion-based speed limit system” will be installed on a 24-km section of Highway 1 between Sumas River Bridge in Abbotsford and the Prest Road overpass in Chilliwack – an area that regularly sees a “high” number of rear-end collisions.
In essence, the new system will lower the speed limit to slow people down before traffic reaches a stop-and-go situation, helping to reduce the number of collisions that occur when drivers do not notice vehicles that have stopped on the highway.
“People are frustrated with being stuck… on this busy stretch of Highway 1, and crashes during congestion means it takes even longer to get moving again,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We are installing new technology to adjust speeds before a traffic jam develops, which should reduce accidents, as well as traffic delays.”
Traffic on the Highway 1 corridor has grown steadily over the past five years, from an average of 45,500 vehicles per day in 2013, to 53,000 counted in 2017, just west of Vedder Road in Chilliwack.
The number of severe collisions on the corridor between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, over the last five years, is approximately 86 per year.
Weather-based variable speed limits
On Highway 3, between Hope and the Highway 3/5 junction, a road and weather-based variable speed limit system – similar to ones near Whistler – will also be installed.
Here, the system will collect data, from road surface sensors and traffic sensors, to lower speeds in bad weather, which will help reduce the frequency and severity of weather-related crashes.
The installation of these new systems will begin later this week and the ministry said it expects them to be operational by next summer.
The total cost of implementing new variable speed limit systems on Highways 1 and 3 is estimated at $25 million, which includes the system components, such as electronic signs, electrical cabinets, and traffic and weather sensors.
The ministry has awarded an $11.35-million contract to of Langley-based MRC Total Build LP has been awarded an $11.35 million contract as part of the project.